Gloamhold: The Murkwater

The seething, foam-flecked waters below Rivengate are particularly hazardous. Many underwater dangers – jagged rocks fallen from above, savage rip tides and more – await explorers attempting to access Rivengate and the areas beyond. Only skilled or lucky captains dare to sail into the gloom of Rivengate’s gaping maw. Within flows the dark and treacherous Murkwater.



Extensive landings provide access to Rivengate’s surviving halls. Battered by the Murkwater’s remorseless tides, the first of these landings has partially collapsed. Yet moored alongside is the battered and rotting hulk of a large fishing boat sunk during a storm last winter. The others four landings, cracked and worn by time and tide, are intact. Malformed and sickly seaweed grows voraciously to the landing’s sides and abnormally large, but misshapen and often sharp, barnacles also cluster here in great profusion. Hidden by the seaweed they lurk ready to rip any unfortunate climber’s hands to shreds. The slippery seaweed makes climbing onto the landings at low water difficult.

If the tide is right, explorers can pass even deeper into Gloamhold. The Murkwater is tidal; adventurers must time their explorations carefully for the tide is exceptionally strong which makes travel in the wrong direction dangerous, difficult and tiring as such explorers must row against the tide. The vicious tides are not the only danger lurking in the Murkwater, for unwary explorers.

Below the river itself runs a twisted, flood network of caverns — the Breathless Narrows — and in several places the two waterways intersect. In these places, the denizens of the Breathless Narrows often lie in wait for passing vessels. During particularly stormy weather, small localised whirlpools often form in these locations, adding an extra level of danger for explorers.

The Fane of Bones

Roughly halfway along its course, the Murkwater widens and flows through the Twisted Warrens. Here, it widens dramatically into a lofty cavern named by explorers as the Fane of Bones.

Careful examination of the area reveals it is only partially of natural origin. The ancient troglodytes dwelling in the Twilight City excavated this area as part of their flood defences, and winter storms still regularly inundate the cavern. Cracked and pitted bones along with scraps of weapons and armour and detritus washed in from the sea form a high tide line of sorts, providing mute testimony to the winter storms’ savagery.

Many passageways and galleries — leading into the Twisted Warrens — stud the walls and four squat ziggurats dominate the cavern. Built to celebrate the troglodytes’ many victories over their surface dwelling enemies within lie interred the vanquished foes of their ancient civilisation. Survivors of explorations into the ziggurats describe in hushed tones horrible, eldritch symbols picked out in bones decorating the walls and of a legion of mindless undead ready to destroy all interlopers. Yet more symols set at the apex of each ziggurat tell of a terrible ritual to control and direct the undead sleeping within each mausoleum. Mercifully, specific details of the ritual remain lost.

The Three Sisters

Beyond the Twisted Warrens, at three points along the Murkwater’s course, forlorn and time-worn fortifications – the Three Sisters – ward Gloamhold’s inner reaches. Each citadel features massive stone locks designed to regulate the flow of water into and out of the Sunless Lake. Still in good repair, the Three Sisters are incessantly claimed and fought over by Gloamhold’s denizens. Few surface dwellers have passed through the greatest and final of these structures, the Forbidden Gate. Beyond lies the tenebrous precincts of the Twilight City.

The Flaming Lady

Also known as the Lady’s Light by delvers, this partially sunken wreck—the Lady’s Kiss—was once a smugglers’ vessel. Dragged deep into Gloamhold by the Murkwater’s capricious and uncaring spring tides, the boat became wedged in a deep notch cleaving the unforgiving rock of the Murkwater’s bank.

Its crew survived for a few desperate weeks, huddled on a nearby ledge until—one by one—hunger, thirst and—ultimately—madness claimed them all. Before he died, one of the doomed band wreathed the ship’s warrior woman figurehead in permanent, but heatless, writhing flames. Although the priest—and all his comrades—are long dead, the flames live on and the battered wreck has become a well-known waymarker for explorers and adventurers.

Although its crew are all dead, the Lady’s Kiss isn’t abandoned. Pounded by waves, picked over my scavengers and ignored by those that know better it is home to a small colony of lacedons. Led by two particularly powerful specimens—once crewmen on the Lady’s Kiss—the colony prey on the weak and those venturing too close to the wreck.

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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